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Kindness of Oisin's grieving parents highlights donor issue

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Oisin McGrath, who was on life support last night after an incident at St Michael’s College in Enniskillen

Oisin McGrath, who was on life support last night after an incident at St Michael’s College in Enniskillen

St Michael’s College in Enniskillen

St Michael’s College in Enniskillen

Oisin McGrath, who was on life support last night after an incident at St Michael’s College in Enniskillen

The death of schoolboy Oisin McGrath following an incident during a football game at St Michael's College in Enniskillen is an immense tragedy.

This is every parent's nightmare, and it is not difficult to appreciate the degree of trauma felt by Oisin's family and the wider community.

Even though the clouds are dark, it is also important to realise that Oisin's untimely death may help other families whose loved ones are in need of assistance.

Oisin's parents Nigel and Sharon decided to donate his organs for medical use in the hope of saving others, and it seems that several people may benefit from this.

It also highlights the urgent need for a better response to organ donation appeals in Northern Ireland, where only 31% of the population are on the organ donation register.

This year Wales will be the first country in the UK to adopt the so-called soft opt-out option. This means that everyone is deemed to have given consent to be an organ donor after death, unless he or she opts out of doing so.

In Northern Ireland a Private Member's Bill initiated by the MLA Jo-Anne Dobson may change the legislation to the soft opt-out option.

However, family members will always have the last say. This is an issue that crosses party political lines here, and it is very much a matter of personal conscience.

The soft-opt out option has its merits, but it is difficult to know how this initiative will fare in Northern Ireland. One certainty remains, and that is the urgent need for more organs for donation in Northern Ireland.

Currently some 200 people here are on the waiting list for a new organ, and 15 people die every year waiting for a transplant.

This is a sensitive and complicated subject, but it is one that we all should consider seriously, and with thoughts for those whose lives we might help to save some day.

Further reading

Belfast Telegraph